The State of Egypt vs. Free Expression

The Ibn Khaldun Trial

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Saadeddin Ibrahim, aged 63, is one of Egypt’s leading voices for political reform and democratic rights. A sociology professor at the American University in Cairo, he founded in 1988 and then directed the Ibn KhaldunCenter for Development Studies until it was closed down by the Egyptian government in June 2000. The Center’s program, ranging from minority rights to civic empowerment, included voter registration campaigns and electionmonitoring.On May 21, 2001, Egypt’s Supreme State Security Court sentenced Saadeddin Ibrahim to seven years in prison and six co-defendants to prison terms ranging from two to five years with labor. The court imposedsuspended one-year sentences on twenty-one others; they were released.1 The authorities shut down both the Ibn Khaldun Center and an affiliated organization promoting women’s voting rights, the Hoda Association.The trial of Saadeddin Ibrahim and his co-accused was manifestly unfair. Human Rights Watch believes that it was politically motivated and that the Egyptian government targeted Saadeddin Ibrahim and others associated with the Ibn Khaldun Center because of their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and criticism of the government.

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